It was a debutante ball or a "Sweet 13", if you will, for Elle Fanning at the Box Office this weekend. J.J. Abrams Super 8, an attempt to recapture Spielbergian 80s sci-fi glory, opened larger than expected, and Elle's star continues to rise. Are you newly won over?
A HUGE week in the Fanning household this has been, eh? Dakota graduated from high school, became the new face of "Oh Lola" and younger sister Elle starred in a #1 hit, following in big sister's footsteps still (Dakota's already done the #1 weekends with Twilight: New Moon and War of the Worlds... which Super 8 bears more than a little resemblance too with its sinister alien antics, great build up and then strangely lame final act. "Uh, we have to wrap this up now so... THIS"
I meant to write a proper review - sorries! -- but instead you get list/notes. MINOR SPOILERS
- first 45 minutes pretty wonderful, fun period work, enjoyable inside-moviemaking jokes for nerds.
- Elle Fanning's "acting" scene in the movie within the movie (an amateur zombie film) before the cargo crash is awesome. The extra, out of focus in the background, totally forgetting his business to stare at her ? Hilarious/perfect.
- That EPIC cargo crash is the first sign of trouble. The explosions and destructions go on and on and on and on (overkill!) and not one of the kids gets a scratch despite running through fireballs and 10 ton debris falling all around them. It looks like a war zone thereafter but their car is also indestructable.
- All the "what's going on?" withholding is wonderful...until it's not. At some point the audience is supposed to catch up to the story.
- I used to think J.J. Abrams "lens flare" issues were cute and I didn't understand why they bugged people but MY GOD. Stop with the electric blue horizontal lines ruining so many otherwise pleasant images.
- The scene where the sheriff tells his deputy to go home and hug his son. Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) can convey so much with so little. He's one of those actors who understands the less is more truism. The deputy knows that this is good advice, but he also knows he's not going to do it.
- Elle Fanning is positioned to receive the most praise (this happens to obsessed over "love object/muse" roles) and she's quite good in it but the real find here is 15 year old Joel Courtney in the lead role: Such an expressive face, so natural on camera, entirely absent any child-actor showboating tricks and gimmicks.
- An extended race sequence with massive explosions and tanks and destructive nonsense near the end is entirely useless to the narrative and a sign that the movie is in trouble.
- The overt sentiment works well when it's calm and focused in the first half but starts to feel like an uncomfortable skin graft toward the finale.
- As in War of the Worlds, it just falls apart at the end, as the heroes essentially do too little that's heroic other than survive and the storyline just kind of resolves itself lazily. The end.
- But bonus points for including the amateur zombie movie over the end credits!
Oops. That was way more than 8 notes.
Grade? I'm still mulling that over. It's very uneven.
U.S. Box-Office (Estimates)
01 SUPER 8 new $37
02 X-MEN FIRST CLASS $25 [review] (cumulative $98.8)
03 THE HANGOVER PT. 2 $18.5 (cumulative $216.5)
04 KUNG FU PANDA 2 $16.6 (cumulative $126.9)
05 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES $10.8 (cumulative $208.7) [review]
06 BRIDESMAIDS $10.1 (cumulative $123.9) ♥
07 JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER new $6.2
08 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS $6.1 (cumulative $14.2) ♥
09 THOR $2.3 (cumulative $173) [review]
10 FAST FIVE $1.7 (cumulative $205)
What did you see over the weekend?
And if you caught it, how did you feel about Super 8?